Every year I like to catalog my reading, look back on what I’ve read and what I’ve learned. This year was a bonanza.
For some reason the reading clicked in 2012 and I read more than any previous year. Way more. Like double my previous high. I’m not sure what happened, but I fell into a rhythm and just became addicted to reading. How addicted? 137 books.
I know, right? I’m not sure how I did it either.
OK, that’s a big lie. I have some ideas about how I managed to read so many books (and no they don’t involved ignoring my loved ones or giving up TV) and I’m currently forming them into an ebook that I hope to release in the next month (yes, a book about books—deal with it).
But until that’s ready, let’s take a look at what I managed to read in 2012.
Favorites in 2012? I’m still trying to compile a top 10 list, but my top favorites would probably be Ready Player One, The Fault In Our Stars and Born to Run. You can also check out my Goodreads page to see rankings on all these books and what I’m reading now.
1. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie by Max Brooks
An oral history retelling of a worldwide zombie apocalypse. The plot is revealed through dozens of personal stories, so it’s kind of disjointed. But it’s still a compelling read.
2. Twitter for Good: Change the World One Tweet at a Time by Claire Diaz-Oritz
A guide to using Twitter for nonprofits.
3. Trapped by Michael Northrop
Seven students are trapped in their high school during the mother of all nor’easters that dumps 20 feet of snow on everything. Interesting idea, but when the students never thought to search the school for flashlights or candles, it started to get lame. That earned Trapped a spot in my post about don’t be dumb.
4. Empty by Suzanne Weyn
Massive oil shortages, war and a global warming-enduced superhurricane (yeah, you read that right) force a group of teens to learn how to cope without abundant electricity and gas. The cardboard characters did get better toward the end, though some major plot threads were left flapping in the wind in favor of the environmental catastrophe focus.
5. The Compound by S.A. Bodeen
A billionaire family survives nuclear holocaust in their well-appointed compound, but everything is not as it seems. [SPOILER ALERT] The Donner-style idea of birthing children to supplement their food supply seems practically ludicrous—that’s why a vegetarian diet is more efficient.
6. The Witch of Hebron by James Howard Kunstler
A sequel to A World Made By Hand (and in fact, referred to as “A World Made By Hand Novel,” which makes me hope there will be more), it’s an expertly intertwined tale of life in a post-collapse U.S. that’s more like the 19th century than the 21st.
7. The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch
A father and son scavenge their way across a post-apocalypse U.S. until they come to an enclave living in a former gated community that has literally gated themselves in and are recreating a pre-collapse existence. All in all, a little bizarre the way people so quickly resumed their non-catastrophe lives, prejudices and fears.
8. The Reformed Vampire Support Group by Catherine Jinks
Vampires aren’t really super-human killers, they’re easily nauseated weaklings. So a group of reformed vampires (think Angel, without the need for the curse) is ill-prepared when one of their own is staked. Fast-paced hijinks ensue.
9. Ashes, Ashes by Jo Treggiari
In a post-plague, post-collapse world a teenage girl struggles for survival and realizes she’s not alone. The final conflict in this one seemed a little ill-conceived and poorly explained.
10. The Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald
The story of a boy growing up in 1890s Utah while his brainy brother pulls all kinds of ingenious capers. I remember reading this series as a kid and wanted to revisit it.
11. Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick
Camping in the woods when an EMP goes off, killing everyone middle aged and leaving only the elderly and the children. But then the kids start going all zombie and you realize this isn’t your typical post-apocalyptic story. It’s a gripping tale, but in the end it left too many threads untied. It looks like the beginnings of a trilogy, which is half good (tie up those loose threads!) and half annoying (how many months until part two comes out?).
12. Ignore Everybody And 39 Other Keys to Creativity by Hugh MacLeod
Tips and ideas and much hailed wisdom for being creative. Some of it sounds brilliant, some of it sounds like too much Monday morning quarterbacking.
13. Enclave by Ann Aguirre
An engaging post-apocalyptic novel that begins underground. A gripping story, but [SPOILER ALERT] the ending didn’t seem to resolve the relational tension the story had developed. That landed a spot in my series on lessons for writers.
14. Twitterville: How Business Can Thrive in the New Global Neighborhoods by Shel Israel
Another book about Twitter, that even though it’s barely two years old already feels dated. In a nutshell, it’s all about conversations.
15. The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Not even sure where to start on this sci-fi tale. Boys suddenly find themselves in a maze? It’s the first of a series and I’m curious where they go with it.
16. Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
The dramatic girly diary narrative almost lost me in the first ten pages, but I stuck it out. An asteroid hits the moon, pushing it closer to earth and unleashing tsunamis, earthquakes and volcanoes. The teenage diary writer undergoes a return to 1800s living that feels more like a Laura Ingalls Wilder novel (of course I haven’t read one of those… yet). I wasn’t impressed with how this author presented faith or needlessly put her opinions into the book.
17. Evil Plans: Having Fun on the Road to World Domination by Hugh MacLeod
How do you not read a book called Evil Plans? More about being creative and striking out on your own and leaving behind the soul-sucking job. Which is all well and good, but these anti-real job screeds always seem overboard. Some people actually like their job and they’re not brainless schlubs.
18. Ashfall by Mike Mullin
Super volcano in Yellowstone erupts, ushering in the post-apocalyptic (post-volcanic) age. A teen is stranded by himself in Iowa and vows to travel the 140 miles to find his family. I pulled a couple lessons from this book for writers, including showing your expertise and making science believable.
20. Gone by Michael Grant
A bizarre, uniquely sci-fi set up: Everyone over the age of 15 disappears and the remaining kids are trapped in a 62-mile bubble and begin to develop powers. Wha?! If that still sounds interesting, it’s a gripping and suspenseful story. The comparisons to Stephen King are not far off. It’s also the first of a six part series, so buckle up.
21. The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible by A.J. Jacobs
I thought this would be a lot more sacrilegious and insulting, but it turned out to be very heartfelt, funny and enlightening. On the downside it puts a major emphasis on the Old Testament and barely takes the New Testament seriously (but I guess it’s easier to keep your fabrics separate than it is to love your neighbor).
22. Hunger by Michael Grant
The second novel in the Gone series. Not quite as good as the first, a little too scattered.
23. Lies by Michael Grant
The third novel in the Gone series. Better than number two, but still not as engaging as the first one. Now I just want to see what happens in the series.
24. 11/22/63 by Stephen King
Time traveler goes back to stop the Kennedy assassination. Why has no one written this story before? Good thing they didn’t, because King is a master (I don’t like his horror, which this wasn’t, but the guy is a master). I loved all 850 pages of it, plowing through them in a mere four days.
25. Plague by Michael Grant
The fourth novel in the Gone series. This one didn’t go on and on as much as the others, but the ending also felt a little incomplete. Sadly, the fifth novel in the series doesn’t come out until April. Doh.
26. Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson
Very similar to World War Z, just with robots. A concise history of the robot war, told in vignettes. At least in Robopocalypse the stories are more inter-connected and you follow the same characters, so you’re more invested.
27. For God, Country and Coca-Cola: The Unauthorized History of the Great American Soft Drink and the Company That Makes It by Mark Pendergrast
More history than I really needed to know, though there were several interesting insights about this global phenomenon. Check out my recap of the most interesting lessons.
28. Misfits by James Howe
Looked like another interesting young adult series and with James Howe as the author (of Bunnicula fame), I thought I’d give it a good shot. It’s good. I’m not sure how it will work as a series, but I enjoyed the opening tale.
29. Time and Again by Jack Finney
Stephen King called this the first time traveler novel, though I find it hard to believe it can be the first since it was published in 1970. Oddly enough though, it reads like a much earlier work. I was shocked at the lack of technology—there’s no time machine!—main character Si literally thinks his way back and forth through time. While that’s pretty handy, I prefer Doc Brown’s Delorean.
30. Totally Joe by James Howe
A continuation of the Misfits series, this time focusing on the gay character, Joe. Growing up is a hard enough, I can’t imagine having to deal with people rejecting your very identity.
31. The Moon Maze Game by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes
The first ever role playing game on the moon is interrupted by kidnappers. Sounded a lot more thrilling than it was.
32. Under the Dome by Stephen King
This nearly 1,100-page whopper felt more like a riveting season of TV drama than a novel. Though I was a little disappointed that in the end (uh, SPOILER ALERT) it came down to extraterrestrial kids torturing ants with a magnifying glass. I was hoping for a little more justice.
33. Addie on the Inside by James Howe
The third in the Misfits series, this one took the form of poetry, which really threw me for a loop at first. I’m not a fan of poetry and wasn’t finding the plot at first, but once it got going it was pretty good. Though a book of deep, introspective poetry by a 13-year-old girl? Little depressing.
34. The Pregnancy Project by Gaby Rodriguez
A high school senior pretends to be a pregnant as a school project to explore stereotypes. Fascinating project, less than fascinating book.
35. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
Odd collection of disjointed short stories that talk about the colonization of Mars and genocide of the Martians.
36. How to Rock Braces and Glasses by Meg Haston
It took three-fourths of the book for the main character to stop being a self-absorbed pain in the butt. I suppose she got to a better place in the end, but that’s a lot of time to spend with a jerk.
37. Blockade Billy by Stephen King
Fun little 112-page baseball yarn written as if an old man is telling the story to Stephen King, and it reads as easy as if King just transcribed it.
38. The Project by Brian Falkner
Kind of a DaVinci Code with Nazis instead of Catholics, I guess. And time travel!
39. Makers by Cory Doctorow
Interesting glimpse of a future where 3D printing leads to a worker revolution.
40. Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride
Another weird story of werewolves, witches and now necromancers (people who can raise the dead). But this book was actually funny and a little off-beat.
41. Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon
Adding this one to my collection of creative rah, rah, rah books. Check out my review and interview with Austin Kleon over at Church Marketing Sucks.
42. Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach
A hilarious romp through the history of sex research, with plenty of puns and pokes at the awkwardness of it all.
43. Gabriel’s Story by David Anthony Durham
A captivating coming-of-age story of a young black man in the Old West.
44. Brave New Worlds edited by John Joseph Adams
Collection of dystopian short stories. Interesting, but awfully depressing after 450 pages of small type.
45. Pym by Mat Johnson
A weird exploration of race, ranging from Edgar Allan Poe’s only novel to a strange species of sub-human discovered in Antarctica. Weird.
46. Fear by Michael Grant
The fifth book in the Gone series, this one felt like a placeholder. It’s getting down to the end, but this one didn’t quite want to get there.
47. Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead
One of those stories with next to no plot, just rambling stories that keep on rambling and rambling and you forget you’re not going anywhere. Great if you’re in the mood for it.
48. Kid Rodelo by Louis L’Amour
A quick tale of a framed outlaw finding justice in an escape across the treacherous desert.
49. Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate
Quick, beautifully written story of a Sudanese boy moving to Minnesota by himself as a refugee. Try not to cry.
50. Hondo by Louis L’Amour
A rough scout comes across an abandoned wife and her son in the middle of Apache country during an uprising.
51. You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One) by Jeff Goins
A good kick-in-the-pants of encouragement for aspiring (and actual) writers.
52. Zombies vs. Unicorns edited by Justine Larbalestier and Holly Black
Which is better, zombies or unicorns? Brilliant concept, but instead of a battle royale of imaginary creatures, it’s just short stories about zombies or unicorns. Frankly, most of the unicorn stories suck. Zombies rule!
53. Blood Red Road by Moira Young
Story of a headstrong girl on a mission to rescue her brother in some post-apocalytpic future.
54. For the Win by Cory Doctorow
Workers in virtual worlds unite and create their own unions to demand better conditions.
55. A World Lost by Wendell Berry
A boy’s uncle is shot and killed and later as a grown man he looks back and reflects on all that was the life of his beloved uncle.
56. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Initially a very depressing book, but it comes around as Celie discovers the hope in life.
57. Vision: Lost and Found by Tim Stevens
The story of how a Midwest megachurch lost their vision and rediscovered their purpose. Check out my review and interview with Tim Stevens over at Church Marketing Sucks.
58. Nerd Girls: The Rise of the Dorkasaurus by Alan Lawrence Sitomer
A trio of dorky middle school girls try to find their place and get back at the popular girls. I can’t even remember the plot of this book now.
59. After the Fall Before the Fall During the Fall by Nancy Kress
Weird pre- & post-apocalyptic story telling how the earth gets destroyed and how humanity survives.
60. The Burning Hills by Louis L’Amour
A strong woman risks everything by helping a hunted man. As much as I like L’Amour, his romances always seem predictable and at times even comical.
61. Held at a Distance: A Rediscovery of Ethiopia by Rebecca Haile
The story of a woman who lived in Ethiopia until she was 10 and her father wounded by the Derg and forced to flee the country. She revisits Ethiopia at 36 and ponders her connection to the country of her birth.
62. The 158-Pound Marriage by John Irving
The story of how two couples have affairs with each other and how it all unravels. Started out interesting, but the narrator’s character gets more and more frustrating.
63. Boy by Roald Dahl
Stories from Dahl’s childhood, mostly random and incredibly engaging.
64. Going Solo by Roald Dahl
Stories from Dahl’s time working with Shell in East Africa and then joining the RAF in World War II.
65. Without Warning by John Birmingham
A gripping apocalyptic thriller about the disappearance of America and the resulting collapse. Multiple stories woven together in a way that’s hard to put down.
66. After America by John Birmingham
Part two in a three-part series that started with Without Warning, this one lacked the punch and drive of the original. Too much mundane stuff, not enough action, not enough killing off characters in the middle, not enough global scope.
67. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
Very creative storytelling style—a mix of written prose and pages of illustration—and a fun story.
68. Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
Same interesting creative style as Hugo, but it felt a little more forced—like he was trying a little too hard to weave this amazing thing together.
69. The White Fox Chronicles by Gary Paulsen
A 14-year-old post-American collapse action hero? Sounds like something I wrote in 4th grade. Unfortunately, read like it too.
70. Giving Away the Collection Plate: Regifting God’s Love and Money by John D. Richardson
The story of a church that opted to give away all the money it receives. Check out my review and a guest post by John D. Richardson over at Church Marketing Sucks.
71. Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry
Another story following a character from Berry’s Port William. Very lacking in plot, it follows Hannah’s entire life. With her husband the World War II soldier who (spoiler alert) dies in 2000, it felt eerily similar to my own grandparents (granted my grandmother died in the early 1970s, but my grandpa also fought in the Pacific during World War II and died in 2002.
72. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
The future of an immersive online world (which basically runs the economy of the future) is up for grabs in a geek showdown of epic proportions. Awesome story, full of pop culture fun, but not to the point that you have to be a geek to get everything.
73. The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future by Chris Guillebeau
The most pragmatic and useful business book I’ve read in a long time. It’s full of actionable ideas, real world suggestions and practical things that small business owners can actually use.
74. The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy
A cracked take on Prince Charming fairy tales. It had its moments that were funny, but I think I was hoping for better.
75. Warday by Whitley Strieber and James Kunetka
A journalistic account of a United States post-Soviet nuclear attack. Fascinating in its detail and a little frightening in how we carry on.
76. Heat Wave by Richard Castle
Spin-off book from the TV show Castle. Great fun reading a book that’s practically the show, though the mystery was a bit convoluted. Works better on the show.
77. Horten’s Miraculous Mechanisms by Lissa Evans
The emphasis on odd mechanical mechanisms sounded intriguing, but the story also had some odd, slow moments. It picked up after a slow start, but a less than believable villain didn’t help. Meh.
78. Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
Written with the voice of a teenage girl, it had too many awkward phrasings and weird explanations that didn’t explain anything, meaning I couldn’t follow parts of it. The artwork and unique approach is the only thing that makes me say it’s OK as opposed to outright not liking it.
79. Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg
Another good kick-in-the-pants type book for writers.
80. The Time-Traveling Fashionista by Bianca Turetsky
A vintage dress as a time machine? Awesome. The book was definitely more girly than I hoped (as a boy, I wanted more time travel, less fashion!), but was pretty interesting in the end. It’s turning into a series and I’ll probably have to check out the next one.
81. The Name of This Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch
A different approach to narrative (lots of asides) and the mystery was interesting, but I don’t know if it was good enough to read the next three books in the series. I’m feeling kind of meh about it.
82. Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Kind of a bizarre fantasy tale that’s slow building. In the end it was pretty good.
83. Wrecked: When a Broken World Slams into Your Comfortable Life by Jeff Goins
Great little book about finding your place in the world and dealing with the incredible brokenness of life. I should be buying copies for everyone and giving it away. Check out my review and interview with author Jeff Goins over at Church Marketing Sucks.
84. The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing: Traitor to the Nation – Volume 1: The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson
A stunning retelling of the American Revolution from the perspective of an African slave. It drags a bit toward the late middle when the perspective shifts, but the overall feeling is pretty heavy.
85. Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus
The true story of a Japanese boy who ends up becoming the first Japanese visitor to America.
86. The Scorch Trials by James Dashner
Part two in the Maze Runner series. It’s kind of a frustrating story where everything is one big question and you can’t rely on anything. But at this point I’m curious enough to see where the series goes.
87. Wormwood Forest: A Natural History of Chernobyl by Mary Mycio
Exploring the literal fallout of the Chernobyl nuclear accident. Interesting enough—wildlife thriving in radioactivity due to lack of humans, the other Chernobyl reactors kept on running until 2000 (!)—but kept getting bogged down in way too much scientific detail. Did more skimming than I like to do.
88. Jake and Lily by Jerry Spinelli
Brother and sister twins learn that growing up doesn’t have to mean growing apart. I hate reading the mean kid’s perspective, but it got better toward the end when he began to see past his own meanness. It’s no Stargirl, but it’s not bad.
89. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
I’m not sure how to describe this story. Bookish and British I guess. It’s not British, but it feels like it, very proper and adventure like, but still a bit stiff. I think it might have been longer than it needed to be–maybe that’s the trouble.
90. Unholy Night by Seth Grahame-Smith
The author of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter turns his attention to the three wise men. Yeah, unholy is about right. Just like Abe Lincoln, this one is leagues away from factual, but a pretty gripping tale about the first two harrowing weeks of Jesus’ life. Pretty bloody and fast and loose with history, but what do you expect from the man who wrote about a president fighting vampires? If anything, this one is more accurate.
91. Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood
The Civil Rights movement of the 1960s and an 11-year-old girls’ summer plans collide. It actually felt uncomfortable to read, which is probably more the issue than the author’s fault.
92. The Search for Wondla by Tony Diterlizzi
Part fairy tale, part sci-fi odyssey, this is a fun, innocent and whimsical story. I don’t usually go in for stories like this that seem so fantasy laden, but it managed to be entertaining and addictive.
93. A Hero for Wondla by Tony Diterlizzi
This wonderful story continues, delivering more answers for Eva and growing into a tale of the rise and fall of civilizations.
94. Social Media is Bullshit by B.J. Mendelson
Sorry B.J., but I didn’t like it. I think you raise some valid points and it’s good to question social media. But I’ve seen too much good happen through social media to just throw it all out.
95. Wild Wings by Gill Lewis
A touching and personal story about kids following an osprey from Scotland to The Gambia and back.
96. No Safety in Numbers by Dayna Lorentz
A runaway flu virus quarantines a mall, leaving people to fend for themselves. Didn’t feel very realistic, but I also kept reading. Sadly, the book is the first in a series, so no hope for closure at the end.
97. Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
A curious relationship forms when a jacked-in technology bubble dweller meets a savage, mutated outsider. It’s not quite post-apocalyptic, but it was still plenty fun. Best of all, it’s the first in a series yet it still ends with enough closure to stand alone.
98. May B. by Caroline Starr Rose
A girl in 1870s Kansas is left alone to survive on the prairie. Interesting poetry style that makes it a quick read.
99. Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War by Tony Horwitz
A fascinating and interesting exploration of the Confederacy and why it continues to capture the imagination and stir up controversy 150 years later. My blog post exploring the book.
100. Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son’s First Son by Anne Lamott with Sam Lamott
That crazy, neurotic Anne Lamott becomes a grandmother and shares her neurosis with all of us. But it’s sprinkled with lots of Jesus and self-deprecation, so that’s pretty great.
101. Liberation: Being the Adventures of the Slick Six After the Collapse of the United States of America by Brian Francis Slattery
He has a weird, overly long style that seems to emphasize wordy weirdness over plot. I was tempted to give up in the first 10 pages and should have, but didn’t. It got better early on, but then was much of the same.
102. Visit Sunny Chernobyl: And Other Adventures in the World’s Most Polluted Places by Andrew Blackwell
It started off fairly interesting, but got less so as it became clear we were just following this guy to random pollution meccas. It’s an another example of the explosion of nonfiction as memoir. Rather than tell us about polluted places, he tells us about his experience with polluted places. Not the same thing. And with varying degrees of interest, depending on how interesting his experiences were. Most of the time? Not very.
103. Angels of Vengeance by John Birmingham
Part three in the Without Warning series, this nicely closes all the threads left hanging in After America. Nicely done. An addictive and thrilling tale. Though it’s funny that the inciting moment—all humanity in America disappearing in the “Wave”—is simply a plot device. The story is what happens after, not that the Wave happened. Check out my blog post exploring that kind of a plot device.
104. Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall
I’ve never finished a book and wanted to go for a run so badly. He explores an overwhelming topic, yet makes it so appealing and gripping. I’m nowhere near an ultra marathon runner, but now it doesn’t sound so impossible. Check out my blog post explaining the book and my own journey into running this year.
105. Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
Vaguely post-apocalyptic, the story follows third world scavengers who stumble upon a rich (“swank”) girl and have to decide whether to cash in on the ultimate scavenge or help her.
106. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
A funny book about cancer? Yes. It’s tragic and funny and oh so good. Two cancer kids fall in love, making their jaded, sarcastic, witty comments that make you want to laugh and cry at the same time.
107. Quarantine: The Loners by Lex Thomas
Lord of the Flies if they were trapped in a high school, quite literally. It’s an engaging story (I actually read it in a single day), but I also found myself questioning the logic of some basic plot points. But it is good trapped-like-rats fiction.
108. The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer
Two modern day kids fall into a book of fairy tales and find themselves in the world of Cinderella, Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood and more.
109. Shadows by Ilsa J. Bick
Part two in the Ashes trilogy, it’s creepy and fast-moving, with tons of intrigue. Unfortunately it’s not as straight-forward as the opener, so it doesn’t have the same sense of terror. Now when does part three come out?
110. The Neddiad: How Neddie Took the Train, Went to Hollywood, and Saved Civilization by Daniel Pinkwater
It had an offbeat sense of humor, but an off-beat plot that often felt more like a list of fun things a boy would do than an actual story.
111. The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume II: The Kingdom on the Waves by M.T. Anderson
If the length of the title is any indication as to the length of the prose, be warned. At 550+ pages of 18th century writing by a classically trained slave, this book is a chore to read. It doesn’t help that very little happens. Which is all too bad. It’s a fascinating story of an escaped slave joining up with the British and joining the Royal Ethiopian Regiment to fight the revolting Colonials. Check out my post exploring the book.
112. The Sixty-Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone
The Thorne Rooms are a collection of miniature rooms housed in the Art Institute of Chicago and a pair of children discover a way to shrink down and experience the rooms. It’s magical, but fairly pedestrian. The best part is sneaking around a museum after it closes ala The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.
113. Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman
Trailer trash and sexual abuse. Yay! Somehow beautiful writing doesn’t make tragedy any less depressing.
114. Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
With connections to Kansas, Wisconsin and Minnesota, it seems horribly wrong that I’ve never ready any of the Little House series. It’s interesting what a diary of pioneer life this is, more of a survival manual than a story.
115. Summerland by Michael Chabon
Because we needed an epic, world-saving tale centered around baseball. It took a while to get going, but it was pretty good once it did.
116. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan
The story is told from two different perspectives (one highly depressing) and I wasn’t hooked until the characters converged, which was more than a third of the way through. But once it got going, it was really good.
117. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
A continued diary of pioneer life, this time on the prairie, it’s notable that it’s much more a diary than a plotted story. The portrayal of Native American life also seems impressively balanced for something written in the 1930s.
118. Ashen Winter by Mike Mullin
A Yellowstone volcano plunges the world into an ashen winter and in this sequel the young post-apocalyptic couple sets out to find mom and dad. Not quite as “new world” eye-opening as the original, but a thrilling story that ends well. When 500+ pages reads quick you know it’s pretty good.
119. Pirate Cinema by Cory Doctorow
Great story about near-future piracy laws and an Internet-wired bloke in London doing his darndest to live below the radar and create his mashup-fueled art.
120. Outpost by Ann Aguirre
Part two in the Enclave series, we find our characters a few months removed from their rescue and adjusting to life behind the protective walls in the settlement of Salvation. It’s a shift from wasteland to frontier and doesn’t have as many tense moments of terror as the opening books, which ultimately means I enjoyed it less.
121. Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
Interesting story that addresses racism and ignorance through a runaway boy. Finally got around to reading this classic.
122. Undead by Kirsty McKay
What every high school ski trip needs: zombies!
123. Amped by Daniel H. Wilson
Creepy vision of a future with bio-mech implants. The warring demagogues made the plot less thrilling and just scary.
124. The Cardturner by Louis Sachar
Who knew the game of bridge could be so exciting? While I’m not ready to play bridge, and it’s not as mind-blowing of a story as Holes, it’s still pretty engaging reading from an old favorite.
125. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
A child prodigy dates a total of 19 girls named Katherine and while trying to find meaning in his life decides to write a mathematical formula predicting romance. How awesomely dorky is that?
126. This Ordinary Adventure: Settling Down Without Settling by Christine Jeske and Adam Jeske
A world-changing, continent-hopping family has to settle down in Anywhere, USA and discover how to find adventure in their now seemingly ordinary lives.
127. A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L’Engle
It’s been a while since I’ve read this series and I didn’t remember much of it, so I thought I’d read it again. It always amazes me how this series is so intellectual and has so little action. Yet it’s still engaging. But that’s probably why L’Engle is always a notch or two below Tolkien and Lewis.
128. Wildwood by Colin Meloy
Meh. This looked awesome. But 540 pages later, it didn’t live up to the hype.
129. The Word Made Fresh: Communicating Church and Faith Today by Meredith Gould
A primer on church communication aimed primarily at liturgical congregations. Read my review and interview with Meredith Gould at Church Marketing Sucks.
130. Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
Kingsolver is back at the top of her game with an incredible story of human nature and climate change clashing. It’s in her typical style, slow and intelligent, which takes a little getting used to, but it’s a pleasure to read.
131. A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L’Engle
It’s curious how L’Engle’s science fiction is less action and mechanics, her fantasy less violence and fighting. It’s all relationships and conversation, mystery and wonder.
132. Every Day by David Levithan
Incredible story that’s all sci-fi—a kid wakes up every day in a new body—but wrapped up in a high school love drama. I loved it because it didn’t shy away from difficult issues—the character wakes up in the body of a junky, a suicide case and an illegal worker. But it also went somewhere interesting and deep. In the end (minor SPOILER ALERT), the character (and no pronouns because the character doesn’t have a gender) has this incredible sense of goodness and selflessness.
133. Paper Towns by John Green
Perhaps my least favorite of his novels, but that makes it way better than most of what else I’ve read this year. Engaging story with a literary heart that still has hilarious, laugh out loud moments of high school humor.
134. Homeworld by Harry Harrison
Some classic sci-fi recommended by a friend. Interesting future earth, spy type scenarios, though the pre-Internet imagining is kind of funny (main character looks something up in a phone book and a volume of an encyclopedia).
135. The Crowd, the Critic, and the Muse: A Book for Creators by Michael Gungor
An exploration of creativity from a Christian perspective, with a focus on Christian music (and a whole appendix decrying the genre-ization of music).
136. Wheelworld by Harry Harrison
Part two in the To the Stars series, this one was much more engaging, oddly enough because it was a more self-contained, simple story.
137. Starworld by Harry Harrison
Part three in the To the Stars series, this one was more like the first one and a little too random for my liking. The space battles were cool though.